This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
The very fact that these old-school stew-ards and the young fledglings who think they are learning the steward's duties from them, relate these money-making experiences with so much gusto, and, indeed, make them their favorite subject of conversation, shows that they do not consider bribe-taking dishonest It may be their raoral sense is very dull, but if they need to justify themselves they can find abundant excuse in the prevailing system of per cents and commissions. There is not a thing that must be purchased from a merchant but bears two different prices: the list price, or asking price, and the net price. From the material to build the hotel, the furniture, ranges and crockery, to the type to print the bill of fare, everything comes priced at so much, but with five, ten, fifteen or twenty-five per cent, off to the actual purchaser, and if the old-school steward is allowed to be the purchaser there is no possibility of convincing him that he is not entitled to that commission, and, furthermore, according to his reasoning, if the distant merchant do so unsolicited the home merchants must be made to do the same.
And the home merchant who wants his trade agrees with 1dm, and, more than that says to him, "You may as well take the commission; if you don't somebody else will, and if not the house will not get the benefit; the price will be the same and we shall keep the commission ourselves, as well as our regular profit".
The writer knew a youthful cook In a large hotel, only a few months ago, who went to the office and asked the proprietor to send for a list of knives and tools for him and take the amount out of his current months wages. The proprietor did so. The bill of goods was in the neighborhood of twenty dollars; there was the usual discount allowed 'and it amounted to about three dollars and a half. The proprietor, who was a mercantile man himself, charged the cook the full list price and put the purchaser's commission in his own pocket This made the youthful cook and probable future steward so "mad" that he would have discharged the proprietor if he could, but as he could not he tendered his own resignation instead. Yet this is what the old-school stewards think is the right thing to do. Human nature is the same in proprietor as in cook, and when the steward pockets the commissions which he ought to obtain for the house and not him-self, the proprietor may not split logic over It, but he is liable to come to the conclusion that he can get along better without a steward, and if the butcher Is making so much profit that he can afford to give five-dollar bills to his customers, the proprietor will go and receive his share himself.
The coming steward will refuse to take these bribes for reasons apart from the question of morality and the correctness of prevailing commercial customs, but from another motive, to be dwelt upon further on.